Gas well in Bhola: When will it be added to the national grid

EditorialProthom Alo illustration

We are being forced to resort to load shedding for not being able to produce required amount of power due to energy crisis caused by dollar shortage, despite having the production capacity. The production is being disrupted for failing to ensure non-stop supply of energy to the industries. At this juncture, state owned oil and gas exploration company BAPEX reported discovery of a new gas well in Bhola.   

BAPEX completed the test of confirming the presence of gas, lighting a fire at the mouth of ‘Ilisha-1’ well in Bhola Sadar upazila on Friday morning.

We have to wait a few more days to find out details about the gas in this well and for the well to be suitable for gas extraction. The news of another new gas well being discovered in island-district Bhola is undoubtedly comforting as well as encouraging.

Quoting BAPEX sources Prothom Alo reports that Russian international company Gazprom has been drilling the well under the design and direction of our state-run company.

It is initially being estimated that there could be a gas reserve of 180-200 billion cubic metre in the newly-discovered well. When gone into production, 20-22 million cubic metre of gas could be collected from the well.  

Including Ilisha-1, a vast amount of gas has been found in total nine wells of Bhola. Geologists believe there are possibilities of finding more gas wells in this island district. In the current situation, it’s extremely crucial to explore them.

Despite having the geological potential for new gas resources, on an average only one well is explored in the country every year. This exploration rate is the lowest in the world for countries having the prospect of finding gas.

Meanwhile, state-owned company BAPEX has been showing excellent success in exploring oil and gas even with their limited resources and workforce.

But it’s not being possible to fully utilise the country’s gas resources due to wrong energy policy, negligence regarding gas exploration and feeble initiatives.

Gradually becoming dependent on import-based costly Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) has put the country’s energy security at risk as well has had a negative impact on the economy.  

Bangladesh’s wrong policy of the energy sector became exposed for the energy prices going up in the international market because of the Russia-Ukraine war. Falling deep into the crisis the government took steps to produce gas domestically.

Bhola’s Ilisha-1 gas well has been discovered in that continuity. But even after two and a half decades, the government couldn’t implement an effective plan for the gas extracted in Bhola.

There’s no way of transporting that gas outside of the district. Even within the district, the use of gas couldn’t be ensured as per the production capacity.

The dollar being spent on importing of high-cost LNG is a tumor for the country's economy; that’s what geologist Badrul Imam believes. In this reality, the discovery of new gas field in Bhola is infighting new hopes.

He said that increasing gas extraction from domestic sources is the best option to reduce import dependence. BAPEX needs to be utilised even further for gas exploration.

Alike the energy experts and geologists, we also believe that the exploration of gas fields in potential areas on land and sea across the country including Bhola, needs to be strengthened.

Inability to add the gas extracted in Bhola to the national grid even after two and a half decades is nothing but absolute negligence and failure.

While the production in industries is being hampered due to gas crisis, how can the gas reserves of Bhola be left unused?

It’s necessary to construct a pipeline to add the gas reserves of Bhola to the national grid. But, that’s time-consuming.

The government plans to convert the gas extracted from Bhola into CNG and transport it to the mainland in containers before adding it to the national grid.

We think that the gas reserve of Bhola has to be added to the national grid without any delay.